Geoffrey Kaye Museum


The Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History became an accredited museum in February 2015. Museum accreditation is aligned with the National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries.



Museum award

The Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History has received the Archival Survival Award for Volunteer-Run Museums for their suite of online programs.  The 2017 Victorian Museum Awards were presented on Wednesday 26 July at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) by Museums Australia (Victoria) – the peak body for 1,000+ museums and collecting organisations. The night was hosted by performer, writer, producer, and director, Lawrence Leung and featured a special address by Martin Foley MP, Minister for Creative Industries.

Read more about the award on the museum blog.


Restoring the Apparently Dead: the search for effective resuscitation techniques

A new exhibition, Restoring the Apparently Dead, explores some of the innovative and novel ways that resuscitation has been performed over hundreds of years. 

Sudden cardiac death, where the heart stops, can sometimes be a reversible situation if resuscitation is commenced quickly. Finding the way to reverse this situation has preoccupied man for centuries.

The ideas now seem slightly ridiculous but early attempts at resuscitation were responses to observed physical phenomena. When a person died, there was an immediate loss of body heat. Warm coals, heated water or dried animal dung were placed on the person’s abdomen in the hope that restoring body heat would restore life.

Flagellation resuscitation involved being whipped with stinging nettles. Fumigation resuscitation entailed tobacco smoke or other substances, being blown into the rectum.

While varying degrees of success were attributed to each of these practices, they were not reliable methods and their time has come and gone.


Lives of the Fellows: 1992

In 1992, the Faculty of Anaesthetists at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) separated from RACS and became a College in its own right.

Lives of the Fellows: 1992 highlights members of the inaugural Council of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, and is part of an ongoing project uncovering the stories of Faculty and College Fellows.


From Snake Oil to Science


From Snake Oil to Science examines the way modern pharmaceuticals often have their origins in botanicals. 

Medicines were once foraged from the local environment. Tinctures, poultices, soups and teas were administered. Purging, leeching, chanting and ritual also had their place, and there was often a fine line between poison and medicine.

As medicine became a science in the 18th Century, causes and effects of disease began to be understood. Sanitation, anaesthesia, bacteriology, surgery and therapeutics all made big leaps forward.

In the midst of all this, the pharmaceutical industry was born.

Science and advertising were set to refashion medicine.

Visitors can see the exhibition at the Geoffrey Kaye Museum or view it online.


Pins & Needles - museum blog


The Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History has recently launched a blog.

We’ll be updating this blog fairly regularly with exhibition information, student projects, collection updates and more. You can visit Pins & Needles whenever you like or subscribe to receive notifications of a new post.

You can follow the museum on Twitter as well. We’ll let you know when a new post is available, tweeting with a link. Twitter is another place you’ll be able to see some of the projects we’re working on and interesting projects from other museums we’re following.



Lives of the Fellows: 1952

In 1952, 40 men and women formed the Faculty of Anaesthetists at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. They were some of the leading names of anaesthesia practice in Australia and New Zealand during the 20th Century.

Lives of the Fellows: 1952 is part of an ongoing project uncovering the stories of Faculty and College Fellows. They are presented in an online exhibition from the Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History.


Trailblazers & Peacekeepers: Honouring the ANZAC Spirit

The online exhibition Trailblazers & Peacekeepers was awarded the David M Little Jnr Media Prize on October 26, 2016. The prize is awarded annually by the Anesthesia History Association during the Chicago meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. 

The David M Little Jnr Media Prize is awarded to the best original work published in English in the preceding year across three categories: books, journal articles and audio visual media. Dr David M Little Jnr was a long-time Chair of Anesthesia at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and, for many years, wrote the “Classical File” series of history columns for the Survey of Anesthesiology.

The exhibition was designed over three platforms, a physical exhibition, a companion book and an online version. The design was consistent across the various platforms and the judges made particular mention of the “…clever and creative design and work”.

Trailblazers & Peacekeepers: Honouring the ANZAC Spirit looks at historical accounts of anaesthetists in conflict, as well as presenting first-person accounts from more contemporary conflicts, such as the Gulf War and Afghanistan.



Australian and New Zealand doctors have administered anaesthesia in every major conflict since the Boer War and, from the time anaesthesia became a specialty, there have been specialist anaesthetists in the Defence Forces. We are extremely proud of these men and women – those who have served and those who continue to provide care today in often difficult and dangerous circumstances.

The online exhibition Trailblazers & Peacekeepers was launched at the ANZCA annual scientific meeting in Adelaide on May 2, 2015. 

Rebecca Lush is a Masters of Museum and Heritage Studies student at the University of Sydney. Rebecca was required to review an online exhibition for an assignment.


Here's what she thought of Trailblazers & Peacekeepers.


Museum media

Read about the museum in The Age article Anaesthetic museum won't put you to sleep published on Saturday September 20, 2014.


Hear Honorary Curator Dr Christine Ball explain the history of the use of nitrous oxide to The Age


Watch an interview with Geoffrey Kaye.  In this 2014 abridged version of the original 1983 interview, Dr Geoffrey Kaye discusses with Dr John Paull some of the highlights of his career.


Geoffrey Kaye oral history

Supporting documents

30x30-pdf-icon.png  PDF: None


30x30-time-icon.png  Video duration: 12 mins 43 secs
30x30-size-icon.png  Full screen: Yes
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60x60-info-icon.png If you have trouble playing the video, please contact your local information technology support or call ANZCA on +61 3 9510 6299 (business hours).



Visiting the Museum

The museum is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Bookings are essential. If you have any questions or to arrange a visit, please contact the museum curator, Monica Cronin. 


Phone: +61 3 8517 5309

Twitter: @GKMuseum



Museum collection


The museum houses a vast collection and has made some images and information available to the public via Victorian Collections. To see the museum’s collection please visit the Victorian Collections website.


If you are interested in donating to the museum, please read Donating objects to the museum or contact the museum via email or telephone +61 3 8517 5309



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